All three congressmen who represent the Landmark’s coverage area voted to impeach President Donald Trump on Dec. 18, as the House of Representatives voted along party lines to approve two articles of impeachment.
“It is a sad, solemn, but necessary action that we have to take,” said Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-4th) in a telephone interview a few hours before the impeachment vote. “It’s very clear that with respect to the two articles that the president sought to shake down the leader of another country for his own personal gain.”
The House voted 230-197-1 to approve the first article of impeachment, charging Trump with abuse of power for withholding congressionally approved aid to Ukraine and a White House meeting with the new president of Ukraine in attempt to get the Ukrainian president to announce that country would begin investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, having a high-paid position on the board of directors of a Ukrainian gas company.
“It is incumbent on members of Congress to act and to hold the President accountable for his actions because, if not, he will do it again,” said Garcia, whose 4th District includes North Riverside east of 13th Avenue, and almost all of Riverside and the north half of Brookfield.
“He has been pretty consistent in the things he says and does, and it is important that we take this measure to prevent it from happening, not only with President Trump, but with future presidents. We cannot have presidents who think that they are kings or that they are above the law.”
Only two Democrats, Rep. Collin Peterson, of Minnesota, and New Jersey’s Jeff Van Drew, voted against the first article of impeachment, joining all Republicans in voting no. Shortly after the vote, Van Drew switched parties, becoming a Republican.
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), who is running for the Democratic nomination for president, voted present on both articles of impeachment.
The second article of impeachment, charging Trump with obstruction of Congress, was approved by a vote of 229-198-1, with Rep. Jared Golden, of Maine, joining Peterson, Van Drew and all the Republicans in voting against.
Congressmen Danny Davis (D-7th) and Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) also voted for both articles of impeachment.
“I believe the facts and findings concerning President Donald J. Trump’s willful and dangerous violations of the United States Constitution, his actions undermining of safety and security of our nation and his actions undercutting our democracy,” Davis said in a statement issued two days before the vote. “I believe the facts and findings as detailed by those committees … lay out a clear and convincing case which demands the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump.”
Davis, whose 7th District includes North Riverside west of 13th Avenue and a small portion of far northwest Brookfield, had previously voted to impeach Trump.
Lipinski, who represents a small portion of Riverside and the south half of Brookfield, voted in favor of both articles of impeachment, but expressed reluctance, compared to Garcia and Davis.
In an opinion piece published in the Chicago Tribune before the impeachment vote, Lipinski stated that he deplored the deep partisanship in Washington, but agreed that Trump’s withholding of congressionally mandated aid in an attempt to force an investigation into a political opponent was an abuse of power and that withholding of documents and witnesses from the impeachment inquiry constituted.
“We cannot cede more power to the executive,” Lipinski wrote.
But Lipinski also faulted Democrats for moving too quickly and acting in too partisan a manner.
“More time should have been spent attempting to compel witness testimony from those with direct knowledge of the president’s actions,” Lipinski wrote.
Both Garcia and Lipinski said that they expect Trump to be acquitted in a Senate trial, where it takes a two-thirds vote to convict and remove the president.
Trump could be tried as early as next month in the Republican-controlled Senate. However, it was announced last week that no vote on sending the articles of impeachment to the Senate would be taken until at least Jan. 7, and House Democrats have signaled they may delay such a vote, because they say they can’t guarantee a fair trial.